Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Democracy Now! Reporters Win Landmark Settlement Over 2008 RNC Arrests

The settlement figure isn't mentioned in this clip, but they each received $100,000.

I have an article posted on on the 2008 RNC and video The eye of the Storm, Portland Oregon 2002. A link and a taster at the bottom of the page.

This is no way to treat my girlfriend.

Press Freedom Victory: Democracy Now! Reporters Win Landmark Settlement Over 2008 RNC Arrests

AMY GOODMAN: As we reported in yesterday’s headlines, a final settlement been reached in our federal lawsuit challenging the police crackdown on journalists at the 2008 Republican National Convention in St. Paul. Democracy Now! producers, Nicole Salazar, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and I filed the suit last year against the Minneapolis and St. Paul Police Departments, the Ramsey County Sheriff and Secret Service personnel. The lawsuit challenged the policies and conduct of law enforcement during the 2008 RNC that resulted in our arrest.

We were among dozens of journalists arrested that week in St. Paul. More than 40 were arrested. On September 1, 2008, the opening of the convention, Nicole and Sharif were covering a police crackdown on street protests. Nicole’s camera captured her arrest and assault by the officers. As the riot police came at her shouting, "On your face," she shouted back, "Press, press."

NICOLE SALAZAR: Watch out! Watch out! Press!

POLICE OFFICER: Get out of here! Move!

NICOLE SALAZAR: Where are we supposed to go? Where are we supposed to go?

POLICE OFFICER: Get out of here!

NICOLE SALAZAR: Dude, I can’t see! Ow! Press! Press! Press!

POLICE OFFICER: Get down! Get down on your face! On your face!

NICOLE SALAZAR: I’m on my face!

POLICE OFFICER:Get down on your face!

NICOLE SALAZAR: Ow! Press! Press!


AMY GOODMAN: That was Democracy Now! producer Nicole Salazar, screaming as the riot police took her down, bloodying her face. Sharif Abdel Kouddous was arrested next. I rushed to the scene and asked to speak to a commanding officer to get Sharif and Nicole, accredited journalists, released, whereupon I was ripped through the police line and arrested.

POLICE OFFICER: Ma’am, get back to the sidewalk.

DENIS MOYNIHAN: Release the accredited journalists now!

AMY GOODMAN: Sir, just one second. I was just running from the convention floor.

DENIS MOYNIHAN: You are violating my constitutional rights. You are violating their constitutional rights.

POLICE OFFICER: Sidewalk now!

AMY GOODMAN: Sir, I want to talk to your superior —-


AMY GOODMAN: Do not arrest me!

POLICE OFFICER: You’re under arrest.

POLICE OFFICER: Hold it right there. You’re under arrest. Stay right there. Back up. Back up.

POLICE OFFICER: Everybody, you cross this line, you’ll be under arrest, so don’t do it.

CROWD: Let her go!

AMY GOODMAN: On Monday, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and I held a news conference in Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan where hundreds are camped out with the Occupy Wall Street protest. We were joined by our attorneys to announce the settlement. We begin with Steven Reiss of Weil, Gotshal & Manges.

STEVEN REISS: There is a reason why freedom of the press is in the First Amendment, because without freedom of the press, there is no democracy, and that’s a lesson that applies not just abroad, and we’ve seen many times in recent months abroad, it applies here as well. And for freedom of the press to be vindicated, it takes journalists with the courage to vindicate those rights, and three of those journalists are here with you today.

AMY GOODMAN: Thank you all for coming out. It is very important that we reached this settlement today with the St. Paul, Minneapolis Police, and the U.S. Secret Service. To challenge how the authorities are dealing with press at public events. On September 1, 2008, my colleagues and I were covering the first day of the Republican Convention in St. Paul. I was on the convention floor interviewing delegates, Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar, Democracy Now! producers, were out on the streets covering the protests. I got a call on the convention floor that Sharif and Nicole had been arrested and had been injured. I raced to 7th and Jackson, the parking lot where I heard they were. The riot police had formed a line, had fully contained the area. I went up to them, asked to speak to a supervising officer to have my colleagues released. They were credentialed like I was, very clearly, I was wearing the top security credentials that allow me to interview presidents and vice presidents, congressman and delegates, issued by the authorities.

It wasn’t seconds before the police ripped me through the police line, twisted my arms back, slapped the handcuffs on, pushed me against the wall, and onto the ground. I was pleading with them not to arrest me, but that’s precisely what they did. I was then brought over to Sharif Abdel Kouddous, his arm was bloodied, he was handcuffed. We were saying very clearly, "You must release us now. We are wearing our press credentials." Whereupon the Secret Service came over and ripped the credentials from our around our necks. I was then taken to the police van, where Nicole was; Nicole Salazar. She was handcuffed. Her face was bloodied, and she described quickly what happened. She said they have been covering the peaceful protests while I was convention. That the riot police had moved quickly in on them. They were in a parking lot. She was backed against the parked cars as they shouted, "On your face." She filmed, but the same time, showed her press pass and shouted, "Press, press." They took her down from in front and behind, onto the ground, her face in the ground. They had a knee or boot in her back. They dragged her leg, which was bloodying her face in the ground.

The first thing the police did was pull the battery out of her camera, if you were wondering what they wanted to stop happening. Nicole was doing her job. She was recording the public protest outside the conventions, which was supposed to be a celebration of democracy. Sharif was there. Sharif Abdel Kouddous, our senior producer, told the riot police to calm down. They pushed him up against the wall, kicked him twice in the chest, bloodied his arm. They face felony riot charges. I was arrested with a misdemeanor. They took me to the police garage where the cages were erected for the protesters. Sharif and Nicole were taken off to jail.

We were held for hours, ultimately released because of the thousands, if not tens of thousands, of people from around the country who responded to the video that was put up by independent reporters. The video of our arrest went viral; the most watched Youtube video the first two days of the convention. We believe that is what freed us. The response, the outrage of people around the country. We were simply doing our jobs. It is our job not only to be on the convention floor, but to be covering the corporate suites, to find out who is covering these conventions, who is sponsoring these conventions, and also to be in the streets where the uninvited guests are. The thousands of people who also have something very important to say. Democracy is a messy thing and it’s our job to capture it all and we shouldn’t have to get a record when we try to put things on the record.

We were not alone in our arrests. More than 40 reporters were arrested. Let this send a message to police departments around the country as we move into the next conventions in Charlotte and Tampa, that the police must not violate our freedom to cover what is happening in the streets. It is not only a violation of freedom of the press, but a violation of the public’s right to know, and we are particularly gratified to have come out of this settlement with the training agreement on the part of the St. Paul Police Department, working with the Center for Constitutional Rights and the ACLU and The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, to come up with a training manual and a training process, so that the St. Paul Police, and they will urge the Minneapolis police and the state police to do the same, will be trained in how to deal with reporters; not to engage and arrests of reporters or to engage in unlawful arrests at all.

ANJANA SAMANT: Hello everyone, more

More at Further Tales From a Police State and The Big Fascist Picture Show

More recently: Police State 4: The Rise of FEMA includes a brief review.

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